Wind erosion creates many problems on European light soils: loss of crops, pollution and jeopardised sustainability. The problems have been known for millennia, and can be recognised, for example, in the 17th-century "Sand Boards" of the Veluwe in the Netherlands, the persistent efforts by the Danish Hedesaellskabet and the much more recent German Soil Protection Law. Mechanisation, increases in field size and contract farming are probably exacerbating the rate of soil loss. Despite extensive research in control methods, there are few good data on either damage or the economic efficiency of the control measures, let alone criteria for applying laws and codes. Yet what data there are do suggest a major problem. For example, the direct cost only for the resowing after one single storm in May 1984 was estimated to be approximately 1.5 million ECU for sugar beet fields in Scania alone.
WEELS builds a studies for Supersite I, where wind erosion is a "High Hazard", and where a GIS has been developed specifically for wind erosion research and combined with data from a portable wind tunnel and an instrumented field site. WEELS considerably expands on this study, adding two more sites and five new methods:
(1) Estimates of wind erosivity based on climatic records, ground data, the European Wind Atlas Project and roughness estimates from remote sensing, developed in the REMCI study of the EC HCM programme;
(2) Analysis of the frequency of erosive winds and their relation to climatic variability using long station records, synoptic weather typing and large-scale pressure patterns, allowing forecasting for
climate-change scenarios and evaluation of long-term variability (in conjunction with the ADVICE study in the EC E&C programme);
(3) Measurement of erosion over 30 years using 137Cs,
related in a geostatistical analysis with soil and site characteristics;
(4) Advanced systems of trapping for the analysis of sediment quantity and character (built on the WELSONS project of the EC, E&C programme) and related to field histories (process models);
(5) A system for estimating the overall costs of wind erosion and its policy framework.
The Cs-based erosion measurements and the geostatistical analysis will yield a first-stage statistical erosion model for each study area. This will be brought to a finer scale of explanation by field and wind tunnel measurements to produce a process-based model, relating erosion to the dynamic pattern of soil texture, clay mineralogy, organic matter and structure, roughness (at various scales), field shape, cultivation history and meteorological history (building on USDA WEQ, RWEQ and WEPS experience). Costs will be estimated using this model and data gathered from farmers and other actors, both at the field and overall area scales. This will allow economic evaluation of land-use practices that reduce or increase soil flux.
The output will be procedures for estimating losses (to compare with those of protection), and for effectively implementing laws and guidelines. The system developed in Supersite I will be tested on sites of in Supersites II and III (High and Medium Hazard areas respectively). These sites also have good environmental databases, and both have extensive sugar beet acreages on light soils and large fields which are particularly susceptible to wind erosion damage.
Keywords: wind erosion, light soils, cost benefit, climate change, sustainability
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
IP28 6NP Bury St Edmunds - Suffolk
6709 PA Wageningen